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Comments

Simon Newman

Thomas Wales:
"What about Ron Paul? Surely we should be supporting him?"

I support Ron Paul, he's the only traditional conservative running and I do think he'd be the best President for America and thus for the world. I don't have a vote though. My wife does, being a US citizen, and as a centrist Democrat she'll be voting for Clinton (or Obama or Edwards, if they make the nomination).

Simon Newman

Sarkis Z:
"Where I differ is on his view that Giuliani is far removed from the British Conservative Party."

I didn't say that. Guiliani's social liberalism, neocon foreign policy, and tough-on-crime record fit well within a broad strand of British conservative opinion. Personally I'm opposed to neocon foreign policy, but I do suspect that Giuliani might pursue it more competently than the current President. I think America's current problems are that (a) the strategy is wrong and (b) it's been incompetently executed; there's a good chance Giuliani could rectify (b).

Simon Newman

Moral minority:
"Like Thomas Wales, I support Ron Paul for the Republican nomination. He is not a war-monger like Guiliani nor a Bush-Cheney patsy like Fred Thompson. He is the only genuine Conservative in the Republican field. The Liberal Republican establishment hates Paul's anti-war, limited governmentlow tax policies, the basis for his massive online support."

I agree, and my impression is that many British conservatives' gut instincts are closer to Paul's than they are to those of the 'mainstream' Republican candidates. But there seems to be a general consensus in the US Right & Left, including the media, to exclude or marginalise traditionalist paleoconservatives and paleolibertarian viewpoints. This is what created the huge gulf between (a) the pro-immigration viewpoint of Republican and Democrat leaders
and (b) the highly restrictionist viewpoint of most of their electorate. I think a similar gulf has developed here in the UK.

Patrick Pepper

There is an inherent contradiction in Simon Burns' argument. On the one hand, he is basically saying that the Special Relationship should over-ride party politics and that the Tories should avoid alienating the Democrats, because they might have to work with them. Thus far, he is talking good sense: though my own sympathies lie with the Republicans, and though I personally abhor both Clintons (but certainly not all Democrats), I thought that the Tory Government made a bad mistake in 1992 when it actively helped George Bush Sr to trawl through old files from Clinton's time at Oxford, potentially putting the Special Relationship at risk when Major and Clinton then found themselves thrown together.

However, Mr Burns completely defies this sensible logic when he makes clear that he himself is hardly "above the fray", not only pro-Democrat but virulently anti-Republican, spewing forth an array of vicious anti-GOP remarks which, if repeated by any of the Tory leadership circle, would certainly come back to haunt the Special Relationship in the event of a Tory PM sitting opposite a Republican President in 2009.

Mr Burns' very partisan support for the Democrats is, of course, no new revelation. He was famously photographed in his Commons office in front of a John Kerry poster in 2004. That's his right, even if many of us find him a little eccentric in his choice of recent US political heroes, but he shouldn't try to wrap this up in what is, coming from him, a wholly bogus argument that it is all about remaining non-partisan in the interests of the Special Relationship.

Tony Makara

Ron Paul has some interesting ideas on the creation of money and the interest dynamic. His questioning is always tough. Definately a politician who ought to have a bigger profile outside of the states.

Returning to Hillary, I think Republicans tempted to vote for her ought to wonder how much of a back seat driver Bill will be? Will voting Hillary mean another four years of Bill Clinton too? Remember Bill Clinton's words at the Labour conference when speaking about compassionate Conservatism being a myth. So its pretty obvious that Bill/Hillary do not believe in compassionate Conservatism, and they certainly don't believe in Reagan Conservatism, so that puts them way to the left of centre.

powellite

Is the this the same Simon Burns who worked on the presidential campaign of that well-known Conservative George McGovern in 1972? I think we should be told.

http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=people.person.page&PersonID=4537

Jorgen

We "should welcome President Hillary Rodham Clinton" like we should welcome a hole in the head.

JF

This sensible approach to protecting the special relationship will raise hackles with some traditional Conservatives, especially the concept of smoozying up to Hillary Clinton. Sadly the reaction will be based on ignorance. It will be influenced by the pernicious drip drip drip effect of what has been a right wing conspiracy against both Clintons and a lack of understanding of what makes Hillary tick.

This stomach-turning propaganda couldn't have been better stated than Clinton herself. As many of my fellow commenters have stated above, the rank hypocrisy in expressing his desire to protect the special relationship through non-partisan support of the US followed by a blatant attack on the GOP is laughable.

In addition, this courtesy has never been extended to the Bush administration by the Conservatives. Indeed, it was "Bush's poodle," Blair, who did the most to cement the special relationship in the past several years. Ask Americans on the street who our greatest ally is, and they will answer Britain--and they will answer this way because of Blair. David Cameron's decidedly lukewarm views on the US, on the war on terror, on bread-and-butter conservative issues like deregulation, low taxes, and law and order does nothing to enamor him to US conservatives. I can see why he takes such stances with spineless MPs like Simon Burns in his party.

"right wing conspiracy" sounds eerily reminiscent of the "vast right wing conspiracy" of the Bill Clinton years, and HRC's not even in office yet, for pity's sake.

As the Conservative Party moves to its traditional centre-right position in the political spectrum

In what world can a party that opposes tax cuts, pushes for bigger government, hugs hoodies and trees, and is weak on defense be called "center-right"?

Iain Lindley

In what world can a party that opposes tax cuts, pushes for bigger government, hugs hoodies and trees, and is weak on defense be called "center-right"?

...because it is all relative.

Even if a future Democratic President raised taxes, increased the size of government and cut defence spending, they would still be presiding over lower taxes, smaller government and higher defence spending than any UK Conservative Government in history. To think otherwise is to confuse the rhetoric with the reality.

JF

Iain Lindley,

By your logic, Ireland is and will probably always be more right-wing than the US simply because its tax regime is far friendlier to business. Do you believe this to be the case?

You have also overlooked other major pillars of conservative thought that I pointed out: an emphasis on law and order, an emphasis on cost/benefit analysis in the environmental discussion, school choice, etc. In the UK, perhaps it's rhetoric. In the US, it's ideology. Perhaps that explains all of the difference: the Conservative Party doesn't seem to actually believe in anything except what the polls say it should in order to become more popular, whereas the conservative movement in the US has been far more willing to hold unpopular views in defense of its vision.

That said, you could clarify things immensely if you could delineate the policies that the Conservative Party supports that differentiates itself from Labor as a right-of-center party, as opposed to simply Labor-lite.

David

Churchill of course was very close to FDR, a Democrat who massively expanded the role of the state. Of course, this may have been helped by the fact that the Republicans wanted nothing to do with a war against Hitler.

Jonathan Powell

Even if a future Democratic President raised taxes, increased the size of government and cut defence spending, they would still be presiding over lower taxes, smaller government and higher defence spending than any UK Conservative Government in history.

Incorrect, the current ratio of public spending to GDP in the US is around 36%. As the recently as 1960, the analogous figure for the UK was 32%. If we go back to 1870, government spending accounted for less than 10% of UK GDP. Source: Living with Leviathan.

Ryan D.

Ron Paul? Shouldn't it give one pause to realize that he is being supported by a ton of left-wingers? How can this be if he is "the only true conservative candidate"?

mamapajamas

David @September 26, 2007 at 04:06 PM :

True, but at that time, FDR and Truman were conservative (relative to today's Democrats), and Republicans were almost all "country club and big business" advocates. At the time, it wasn't generally understood, as it is among Republicans today, that "what is good for GM is good for America". You can't provide jobs by taxing businesses to the point where they have to lay off their work force.
Reagan changed the Republican party because the party of FDR and Truman left him.

It was FDR who joined WWII. It was Truman who dropped the bombs on Japan and then later went into Korea. It was JFK who brought us to the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and who delivered the huge tax cuts that brought about the unprecedented wealth of the '60s. ALL of those men were Democrats, doing things modern Democrats would sneer at or throw their hands up in horror over.

The Republican party of today is pretty much where the Democrats were before the McGovern wing took over, and that is a large drift to the left in both parties, with the single exception that we Republicans would not have brought about Social Security or Medicare in the form the Democrats did. We would have preferred a business-oriented option (with tax breaks for participating companies) instead of a massive government agency that is creaking with overburden and may collapse at any time. In my '60s but still working, I do not expect to EVER receive a dime of the Social Security I've paid into all my life.

I know about the party shift because I WAS a JFK Democrat at one time. My party left me, not the other way around.

Simon Newman

Ryan D:
"Ron Paul? Shouldn't it give one pause to realize that he is being supported by a ton of left-wingers? How can this be if he is "the only true conservative candidate"?"

Because he's anti-war, because he really annoys the pro-war Republicans, and because he says things like "They hate us for what we do not what we are"*, which really annoys
the neocons. However his views on States' Rights and limited government would be anathema to most leftists.

*I think he's only half-right - I think they really do hate us for what we are (just as the Soviets did), but they hate us even more for what we do.

Ryan D.

Simon -

My question was rhetorical. I just wanted to make the point that Ron Paul ONLY gets attention because of his anti-war stance and that many people espousing support for him are not themselves conservative. Even so, is being anti-war a conservative position?

Christopher

Hillary Clinton is not as scary as she once seemed. I have a growing confidence in her but to pin-point it further in her inability to make a major mistake since taking office to represent New York. She's a very good politician. Will I be voting for her? Doubtful, I'm supporting John McCain but if the GOP nominates Romney, I'll vote for her in a second.

JF

Christopher, since you're a liberal, can you please explain to me what HRC has accomplished that gives you such confidence in her leadership ability?

timelord

I think Simon Burns MP is in the wrong party. Cross the floor buddy!

Simon Newman

Ryan D:
"Even so, is being anti-war a conservative position?"

I think being against pre-emptive* war and war based on concepts of regional transformation is conservative, yes. A classic conservative war is something like the Falklands - fighting back when attacked. I think Gulf War 1 also qualifies as a conservative war, though I don't know if Paul would agree.

*Not counting immediate pre-emption of an imminent attack, like Israel's 1967 war.

I think wars fought for humanitarian, imperialist, progressive transnationalist and other ideological reasons are un-conservative. Wars that are a matter of choice are un-conservative. Sometimes they are successful, sometimes (IMO) morally justified (eg the Tutsi rebels' invasion of Rwanda which ended the genocide), but they're risky, and can destabilise the warmaking country, which a conservative will seek to avoid.

Richard

Good to see there is some support for Ron Paul here. I doubt he'd win an election if he was a presidential candidate (even the Americans wouldn't vote to shrink the government as much as he'd like to) but it would be good if his ideas began to have some influence over in the USA.

Tony Makara

Richard, I think if Ron Paul had lived in more troubled times he might have had a greater following. Ron Paul has a radical Conservative approach if thats not too much of a paradox. He certainly isn't someone who can be boxed into a corner. The man is a fighter.

Yet Another Anon

Hilary is a liberal whose provocative attacks on the taliban came at a time when they were about to throw Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, after that the taliban leaders changed their position and allowed Osama Bin Laden to remain.

The same Hilary Clinton who annoyed US\UK allies by suggesting that a UAE owned company was a National Security risk to the USA despite the fact that security was provided by the Federal Government. The same politician who is leading xenophobic Congressional campaigns against the White House position of welcoming migrant workers who do a lot of vital work - in agriculture notably in the Deep South, in shops and restaurants, all those taxi drivers in New York and also more academic work such as immigrant programmers from India.

The same Hilary Clinton who wants to introduce socialised medical care from cradle to grave and turn the whole USA into a Continental style Social Democracy.

JF

Tony Makara,

I think if Ron Paul had lived in more troubled times he might have had a greater following.

Indeed, I am certain Ron Paul would have been popular in the United States of the early 19th century. His ideas are also sure to be popular in Sudan, Somalia, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and all of the other failed states of the world.

To be sure, Ron Paul in any position of power would surely lead to more troubled times. It's no coincidence that he has such a strong following among anarchists.

That is why Ron Paul is dangerous, and why Ron Paul will never rise above his current position as resident crank of TX-14.

Mr Angry

Couldn't disagree more, Clinton is way, way, way to the left of being any kind of conservative, even a Cameroonian one.

I find myself much perturbed by the fact that a Brtish Conservative MP can actually think this, let alone try to encourage anyone else to.

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